It was a normal waking time on Monday, as we set off on a day hike, what Red called the three-peak challenge. Once we’d climbed the first mountain, a volcano, some of us had phone signal and were able to send a text home. The next mountain we headed towards was the quartz mountain, a twenty minutes walk from the first mountain, where we also got phone signal from the top. When we had almost gotten to the top of the quartz mountain, Dre cut her finger so we had to make our way back to base camp so Dre could it sorted out. That night we had a movie night and watched ‘Django Unchained’ and ‘Anchorman’. It was a very windy night, so we all huddled together like penguins on the sofas, watching the film on Welles’ laptop.
We spent the first half an hour of Tuesday frantically tidying the octopus for Ian Craig’s imminent arrival. We yelled at each other to get our things from the octopus, and Minty swept the whole thing in fifteen minutes. Once we’d eaten breakfast, we found out that he wasn’t coming that day, so we all headed to a waterfall that was a ten-minute walk to build a dam to hold water after the rains for the wildlife.
At eight the next morning, we were up and we headed back to the dam to finish building it which involved shifting lots of stone whilst popping blisters. By eleven it was almost finished, so Minty, Hayden, Beth, Max, Hamish and I went back to base camp to bake bread with Monica. One group made pot bread, the other group made buns, cooked over the open fire. After dinner, when the dam was finished, Ian and Jane, Pete and Estelle arrived at the camp for a tour. They were shown the octopus, one of the boys’ tents, one of the girls’ (the girls tent was much tidier), a shower tent and the kitchen. Once they had seen everything, they headed back home and we went for a sundowner on the rocks above the plane behind camp.
An early start on Thursday as we headed back to Warmbad to continue with our community project. When we arrived in Warmbad, and after Will took sweets orders for the rest of us, Dre and Will Mackey headed to Karasburg for the weekly shop. We spent the day flattening the garden, digging drainage trenches for the vegetable patches, watering the compost piles and started putting the wire on the fence. It was a hot day, so at one point we stopped working at the school, and headed back to the library for a cool down…
Spirits were high on Friday for Hamish’s birthday. We began the day by heading up a mountain in Kum Kum plane, where we had set the second bait, for Leopard stalking. It was an hour or two of complete silence because we were afraid we’d scare a leopard away. Once we reached a vantage point that allowed us to see the bait, we saw no leopard, only that the Donkey’s left leg had been chewed quite a bit. Before heading back to camp, we went out to the Whale Back sector, down dried river beds, to put out the last two sets of camera traps.
When we got back, we all started planning our costumes for Hamish’s fancy dress birthday party and Minty and Katie went to Monica to get part of their hair braided for the party. At half five we all got into the truck and headed up a rock face for a birthday sundowner, where Red gave Hamish his present and the card signed by everyone.
Back in camp – we all decided to change into our costumes for the party, even if a few people still didn’t know what they were going to dress as. Eventually, we were all decided on our costumes; Katie a horse rider, Beth was a wildlife photographer, Welles was a guy on spring break, I was Welsh Celt, Max was a hunter (with a set of horns taped to his head), Hamish was a Ninja, Jonty wore his dodgy shirt, Minty didn’t know what she was, Will Gray was dressed as a tourist, Will Mackey was an Aussie outback, Hayden was dressed as a Hawaiian, Dre dressed as a pirate and Red was an undetermined creepy person. The main events were Minty turning to Winty, Will Gray getting beat by Welles in the boat race and Mackey shocked us all with his incredible dancing, especially his two-step twirl and his bold claim that he would karate chop me.
It was a late start the next day…We were all split into groups for atlas and mapping. Welles, Hamish and Katie were mapping reptiles, Minty, Beth and Will Gray were mapping where the camera traps were laid out and Max, Jonty and Hayden were completing the historical distribution of mammals. Once most of the mapping were done, we begun preparing for the ‘Should trophy hunting be part of the wildlife conservation effort?’ debate. Max, Beth, Jonty, Welles and I were on the ‘against’ team, Hamish, Minty, Will Gray, Katie and Hayden on the ‘for’ team. Max wasn’t happy about being on the against team, but decided to make the best of a bad situation. In order to fill the time, we played some high card low card, which involved Jonty drinking 8 litres of water and Welles running up a mountain. As well as another couple of boat races-with water. We all decided as a group afternoon yoga session and found out that Max doesn’t like yoga. Hayden thought that the reason Max didn’t like it was because he was a farmer. After yoga Katie and Jonty went to help Monica make pizza dough for dinner, making all sorts of shapes for them. Everyone got stuck in topping the pizzas, letting their creativity loose and putting a bit of everything on it, apart from Minty that excluded the onions, garlic, olives and mushrooms.